Volume 92, Issue 27
Thursday, October 22, 1998
mark's going to jail
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Don't believe the hype
The fact that this latest offering from the self proclaimed antichrist superstar is one of the most talked about releases of the year says a great deal about the banality of today's musical climate. Although Manson would love for the general listening public to believe he's a model of originality and innovation, every aspect of this record is either trite or derivative.
It's obvious just from looking at the liner notes that Manson's latest gimmick is to emulate glam rock icons from bygone eras, most notably David Bowie. Never one for subtlety, Manson has even formed his own fictional band, presumably as an homage to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Rather nauseatingly, he's dubbed them "Omega and the Mechanical Animals" and it's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the poor guy. Almost.
Manson's reverence for Bowie isn't limited strictly to the liner notes. Mechanical Animals is an album positively brimming with thick guitars, campy choruses and theatrical sensibilities. It's almost as if Manson used each song off of Bowie's Diamond Dogs as a template for this record. Unfortunately, there is a difference between wryly wearing your influences on your sleeve and unabashedly plundering someone else's ideas.
It's sad to think Manson attaches religious significance to his lyrics. Mechanical Animals is loaded with deliberate and contrived attempts to antagonize and offend, but does not offer any real content. On "Coma White," the album's centrepiece, Manson snarls "a pill to make you numb, a pill to make you dumb, but all the drugs in this world won't save her from herself." It's meant to be moving and dynamic, yet it comes off as being insincere and pretentious.
That said, there are some decent songs here. Unfortunately, in order to enjoy them, you must learn to disregard the bulk of Manson's peripheral baggage. If you can somehow manage to ignore his well-calculated attempts at provoking controversy, his tired campaign to delimit sexuality in the '90s and his exasperating tendency to bill himself as a viable alternative to organized religion, then you may just enjoy this album.
Then again, that's a lot of ifs. Do yourself a favour and buy a David Bowie record instead.
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